At the end of 2020, the Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned a new set of works from me - I am so pleased to finally send off the score and parts for JOY. The commission involved a brand new 5-minute orchestral piece scored for a medium sized ensemble, with an arrangement for a flexible chamber sextet across every clef and transposition. In addition, the orchestra asked for three solo miniatures inspired by gestures and textures from the piece.
‘JOY’ is a celebration of community music making; an activity at the heart of millions of musicians across the globe which suffered such a terrible blow at the hands of COVID-19. Coming together to create, rehearse, and listen to great music is such a joyful activity — it is this feeling that I hope to have captured in my piece.
At the core of this music is an electric fizz of sound; the riotous zaps of brass reminiscent of a fanfare… the white-hot pops of plucked violins an evocation of fireworks. These bright sounds are accompanied by a gentle, warbling woodwind figure present throughout most of the piece, endlessly tumbling and spinning to subtly colour the main gestures.
But the music is not always celebratory — as in that very famous other ‘Ode to Joy’ — there can be no light without darkness. Towards the centre of this work, the orchestra summons a much bleaker landscape; the fizzing brass becomes a desperate cry from solo strings… the woodwind warble becomes a thunderous timpani clatter. Will light triumph over dark?
I am so, so grateful to Andrew Taylor and everyone at the Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra for championing my music and supporting my development as a composer. For me, this commission represented a very personal battle — an inability to write without the inspiration afforded from performing arts, culture, and sport.
This marks the second official collaboration between myself and the orchestra, the first being the world premiere of my work RIVER IMAGE, originally commissioned for Reading Fringe Festival and performed for the first time at Reading Train Station. I can't wait to hear JOY performed soon!